In August of 2014 the RLC Design Mobile Studio could be found in the Dahlonega Georgia area. Hot and humid, plenty of rain, giant bees, and kudzu draping the steep mountain slopes. Why were we in the area?
Hiker Hostel is a very unique B&B / Hostel located outside Dahlonega. They’ve been operating for over a decade now, helping would be Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers get their start on the 2000+ mile journey. The business is run by Josh and Leigh Saint, former Thru Hikers themselves. After their Appalachian Trail trip in 2000, they decided to take an amazing risk, sell their home, and build a business that was based around visitors coming to hike and bike the area trails. And over time, their business grew, but reaching out to new markets was important to Josh & Leigh, so they contacted RLC Design to help them broaden their client base.
B&B Website Design
Hiker Hostel is a unique business. Hostel or B&B. For some starting out on a 4 to 6 month hike, Hiker Hostel is the place they get prepared to start the Appalachian Trail. For other guests, the hostel is more of a B&B where they can get away from city life. Atlanta is a short drive from Dahlonega, and when people need to recharge from their city life, the hostel is an amazing retreat!
Like many of our other clients, Hiker Hostel is located in a “destination” location. Close to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the hostel is a great place to start any visit to the mountains of Georgia. And while the hostel has become well known in the Thru Hiker community, reaching out to potential guests who are looking more for a retreat than a long hike was also important to the owners!
RLC Design was contacted in the Spring of 2014 about a site overhaul for Josh & Leigh. And after wrapping up a contract with a non-profit group in New England we headed south to Georgia to sit down with the owners and discuss a broader B&B Website design.
Simple and to the point website design
Hiker Hostel is a unique operation. Shuttles to and from the Atlanta Airport. Shuttles into the National Forest. Incredible places to ride road bikes and mountain bikes. Unique lodging opportunities (a gorgeous log cabin, container cabins, and more). The bottom line for Hiker Hostel? They’re in an amazing outdoor enthusiast’s location, with plenty to do. While Thru Hikers know all about them, the rest of the world needed to be reached as well.
Like many of our clients, they needed to get found by people outside of the Appalachian Trail community. The goal they had in mind was to reach out to potential guests who lived in their regions (Atlanta community) and show off why locals should spend their next vacation with them. A pretty simple goal, but often many design groups put more attention on the design than the message. RLC Design always offers a balance approach.
For hostels, hotels, and parks, the questions potential guests have are pretty simple.
- Who are you?
- Where are you located?
- How do I contact you?
- Can I make a reservation?
When visitors go to a travel related website, the above questions are some of their main points of interest. But there’s another question that often gets forgotten. “Why do I want to stay with you?” In the case of Hiker Hostel, we had a lot of good answers.
The site design was kept extremely simple. Get the questions answered, show off the local area and the hostel itself, and optimize the keywords on the site to target adventure minded guests in their searches. And the results?
Nearly 28,000 unique visitors to the site in 2015. Over 1,000 reservation forms submitted through the website for 2015. The dollar value of those online reservations? Somewhere in the $100,000.00 range……And phone reservations through the site? Yeah, their new website generated real tangible results.
What did RLC Design provide?
The mobile studio was parked in Georgia for several weeks. We sat down with the owners for several days to discuss what they wanted the website to do, and how they wanted to look. For several days we worked on creating an aesthetically pleasing layout. Once we had something the owners liked, we started working on content development, and more. For this project we did the following:
- Website Design Layout.
- Search Engine Optimization based on the keywords the owners wanted to be found for.
- New imaging for the Hostel. Photography and video inside and outside the hostel. Imaging of the surrounding area as well. All images and video were turned over to Hiker Hostel for their own use in additional marketing campaigns.
- Content Generation for the website. Business owners often have a hard time telling their own story.
- A simple online reservation request. For over 10 years, Hiker Hostel never had an online reservation request system.
- SEO work. Their outreach beyond the Appalachian Trail Community was key in order to develop new markets in the off season.
- Site usage training. The owners were allowed to do their own blog posts for further outreach.
- Site usage video tutorial training. Over 4 hours of tutorials on site usage, optimization, and basic administrative functions they needed to do on a regular basis.
- A video tour of the Hostel and an interview with the owners for potential guests to watch.
- Ongoing monthly website maintenance and management.
There’s the short list of our time at Hiker Hostel. During our stay we were at the client location every day. Seeing the operation of their business, their processes, and how they work with their guests was important to witness first hand in order to relay the services effectively and simply on their new website.
Your B&B Website
So, are you ready to increase the outreach of your B&B Website? Maybe you’re running a botique Motor Lodge. Or maybe you’ve got an adorable mom and pop hotel in the mountains. Whatever your destination location is, RLC Design can help you reach more guest in 2016. Contact us today, and we can start talking goals for the coming year!